Tag Archive | trail of hope

Trail of Hope – Release Day!

It’s Release Day! Trail of Hope is finally here!


You can pick up a copy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

I keep telling people that this installment of the Hot on the Trail series is different than anything I’ve written before. It’s different because it deals with slightly more serious topics, namely death. Both our heroine, Callie, and our hero, John, have recently experienced the death of someone close to them. This story is about coming out of grief and moving on with life.

I did a fair amount of research about death on the Oregon Trail before I wrote Trail of Hope. I know a lot of people have the idea that folks died on the Trail all the time and that your chances of survival were perilous at best. I’m not sure where this idea came from. Possibly from the difficulties of playing that wonderful old school video game Oregon Trail and trying to make it through to the end. The truth is that in the entire history of the Oregon Trail, only about 4% of people died along the way.

That’s not too bad when you stop to consider how many people die in everyday life for one reason or another. So what killed settlers on their way to start a new life in the West?

Another misconception is that Indian attacks were the biggest problem and that pioneers had to constantly be on the alert. While it’s true that in the very early days of the Trail and, ironically, in the later days of the Trail during the Civil War, there was a greater danger of attack, the truth is that Native Americans weren’t as big of a threat as stories have painted them. There was some trouble, but for the most part, once the trail was established, the U.S. Army was able to stop most attacks before they happened.

The exception to that was once the West began to be more and more populated by pioneers from the East. Many of them encroached on Native lands, which were then defended. When certain parts of the Trail became too dangerous to travel for these reasons, other routes were tested. If you think about it from a Native American point of view, it must have been really frustrating! All these foreign people who don’t understand your ways coming and coming like waves drowning a shore.

But I digress.

dysenteryThe single greatest cause of death on the Oregon Trail, and the cause of death I explore from Callie’s point of view in Trail of Hope, was disease. Fatal trail illnesses accounted for almost half of the deaths on the Trail. So many of these were caused by bad water, close conditions, and the lack of comprehensive medical care. The Platte wasn’t exactly the best water source around, and after so many people traveling west crossed through the same area, digging latrines that became overused and burying their dead too close to the river, problems arose.

Actually, one of the details that I chose not to include in Trail of Hope because it felt a little too gruesome to me was how people were buried if they died on the Trail. Much of the time, because there was no time to sit and wait for people to mourn, when someone died, they were buried right away. A grave was usually dug right in the trail itself, and then all the wagons and oxen would be driven over it. The purpose of this was to make it more difficult for wild animals or anyone else to dig up the deceased. Yeah, I left that out on purpose.

But really, Trail of Hope is, as its name suggests, about finding hope after great loss. It is about the fact that life goes on, which is what the whole Oregon Trail is about. I hope you enjoy Callie and John’s story!


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Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Hope

Oh boy! It’s the last excerpt Wednesday before the release of Trail of Hope on Monday! Here’s a particularly juicy snippet for you….


He folded the shirt and laid it aside and settled back into the bedroll, arranging the blanket over them, then pulled her back into his arms. Now when she reached around to spread her hand across his back, as he resumed doing with hers, her whole bare arm was in contact with the skin of his torso. The shivering feeling grew stronger.

“I like this,” he was frank with her.

“It’s nice,” she agreed, unsure how else to explain it.

He shifted again to hold her closer, his arm inching her chemise further up, her chest and stomach pressing against his, only one layer of fabric between them and none at all in some spots. “Would you mind if I kissed you?”

Again Callie’s eyebrows flew up. Other than a few pecks on the cheek, he hadn’t kissed her since their wedding. “Do you want to?”

“Of course I want to,” he chuckled.

He wanted to kiss her. Even though she wasn’t Shannon.

“All right then.” She spoke quickly to push Shannon out from between the two of them.

He leaned towards her, found her mouth in the dark. His lips were warm and very slightly textured from the sun and the wind. His breath was humid on her skin. It was a lovely kiss all things considered.

Then he kissed her for real, a deep, serious kiss. She sucked in a breath as his mouth opened over hers, heat and pressure. She didn’t realize until she felt the tip of his tongue against her own that she’d opened her mouth as well. It was an entirely new feeling, this soft tasting. Somehow it was more than just two mouths meeting. It affected her more deeply than that.

He stopped kissing her long enough to ask, “Is that all right?”

She teetered just on the other side of overwhelmed and took a few seconds before answering. “It’s quite nice.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Again, she could hear the smile in his voice.

He kissed her again. With her one arm still around him, she could feel the muscles in his shoulders relax. His free hand rubbed her back, climbing up towards her shoulder and pulling her chemise with it. If she hadn’t been so focused on the way his mouth and tongue tasted, she might have been concerned that her breast was inches away from being exposed, that the hair on his chest was tickling her stomach. But she was far too absorbed in the discovery of how much she liked kissing, how much she liked kissing John.

And YES! You can pre-order Trail of Hope on Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords.

Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

Excerpt Wednesday – A Taste of Trail of Hope

*happy sigh* I love Excerpt Wednesday. (Although how did it get to be Wednesday already?) It means I get to share a bit of my work with you. So without further ado, here’s a snippet – a very important snippet – from Trail of Hope, coming November 24th!



Reverend Joseph stumbled through a few passages from the Bible, using a smaller, thinner one instead of his own that he’d dropped earlier, then got straight to the point.

“Do you, John Rye, take this woman, Callie Lewis—”

“Callysta Lewis,” John corrected him.

“Um, yeah. Right, right. Callysta Lewis, to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

John remembered candles and incense. He remembered the Latin blessing that had been spoken over him and Shannon. He remembered Shannon’s fiery red hair, but he couldn’t remember the shape of her nose.

“I do,” he said with a catch in his throat. At least for now.

“Good, good.” Reverend Joseph nodded and turned to Callie. “And do you, Callysta Lewis, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”

Callie met John’s eyes with a blend of resignation and determination. She would do what she had to do to survive. Knowing that brought a smile to John’s face. He admired her more than she would ever know.

“I do,” she stated firmly.

“Then by the power invested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife,” Reverend Joseph finished up the ceremony. He’d forgotten half of the vows and fumbled through the rest of it at best, but John supposed it was good enough for God. “Oh. You may kiss the bride.”

A hitch caught in John’s chest. Callie stood before him, without wearing a veil, her eyes full of shy expectation. It would do no harm to kiss her. Just a little. She was his wife now. Shannon would forgive him. He leaned into her, taking her hands in his, and touched his lips to hers.

A rush of warmth spread through him. There was nothing passionate or romantic about the kiss, but it was still a promise. Callie softened under his touch, so trusting. He found himself lingering longer than he should, surprised by the taste of mint on her lips, the warmth and the gentleness with which she met him. He wanted to slide his arms around her, hold her close to see how she felt against him. His heart thumped in his chest as if it had forgotten how.

When he stepped back, Callie’s friends were clapping. Emma wiped a tear from her eye and turned bright red when Dr. Meyers noticed and smiled at her. Cade watched Lynne with a look of admiration that only a blind man would misinterpret. Elton Finch, who had actually had the nerve to show up for the ceremony, smiled as though he had gotten his way after all.

None of it penetrated past one simple fact in John’s mind. Once again, he was a married man.


And YES! You can pre-order Trail of Hope on Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords.


Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my quarterly newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

Sssh! This is a Secret Just For You!

So I realize that the official cover reveal for Hot on the Trail, Book 2 – Trail of Hope – is not until Friday, but I couldn’t wait another instant! So here it is, just for you guys. DON’T TELL ANYONE! … yet.


Once again, the amazing Erin Dameron-Hill has outdone herself with this design. I love it! What do you think?

Also, right now you can pre-order Trail of Hope on Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords.


Another special note. I’ve been feeling a little bad lately that I haven’t been keeping up with my Monday history blog posts. I’ve had a lot going on with writing these Hot on the Trail books, and my website is in the process of being redesigned. It’s made too many things uncertain in the blogsphere. BUT! I want to give you a sneak peek into one of the books I’ve been reading as research for Hot on the Trail books 3 (Trail of Longing) and 4 (Trail of Dreams). Both of these books involve encounters with the Cheyenne. To delve fully into their lives and customs and how they changed through the 19th century, I’ve been reading this fascinating book, The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Lifeways, by George Bird Grinnell. It was originally written in the early part of the 20th century, and Mr. Grinnell lived with and studied the Cheyenne from the 1870s through the 1890s. It’s an amazing, nearly first-hand account that has given me ideas on top of ideas! I can’t wait to share more about this book with you in the coming weeks.


Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my quarterly newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

Excerpt Wednesday – A First Look at Trail of Hope

It’s Wednesday! And, of course, you know what that means. It’s time for an excerpt. So here it is, the exclusive first peek at Book Two in the Hot on the Trail series, Trail of Hope:

He stood by the edge of a small stream on the other side of the wagon train, watching his oxen drink. He may have been dressed in mourning, but his clothes were clean and well-made. His glasses reflected the sunlight and his expression was sad and distant, as though he was a thousand miles away. But he looked up when Callie drew near.

“Mr. Rye?” Her voice cracked.

“Yes, Miss Lewis?” he replied.

Two days. Her brother had died only two days ago, and here she was, making the biggest decision of her life.

“Would you be willing to marry me?” The words felt as though they came from someone else.

He took in a breath. The weary look in his eyes told her he’d seen the question coming, had been thinking about his answer already.

“I’m willing,” he told her in a soft, hesitant voice, mouth drawn up in a small line, “but I don’t know if I’ll be a good husband.”

Callie shook her head. “I don’t need you to be a ‘good husband,’ whatever that’s supposed to mean. I just want a peaceful life. If you can put a roof over my head and food on my plate and give me something to keep me busy in my days, that’s all I need.”

He considered her words for a moment. There was something reassuring in the way his brow knit in thought before he spoke. “Miss Lewis.” He paused and shifted his weight. “I suppose I should call you Callie.”

A thrill of hope combined with relief flooded through her. He was going to say yes. She wouldn’t have to go on alone.

“If you’d like,” she replied. “Although my given name is Callysta.”

His brow inched up. “Callysta. That’s a lovely name. Unusual.” He took a breath. “Callysta, are you certain this is what you want?”

A wry grin pulled at the corner of Callie’s mouth. “None of this is what I want,” she said rubbing her forehead. “But asking for your help is a decision I can live with.”

A splash of color touched his face and he lowered his eyes, looking almost guilty. It was the most curious look she had ever seen on anyone’s face, and for some reason it prompted a swirl of butterflies in her stomach. There was something more to John Rye, something he hadn’t mentioned and only barely hinted at in their one conversation. She caught herself wanting to know what that was, wanting to untangle the mystery of the unassuming, grief-stricken man in front of her. He was special, but she didn’t know how.

He cleared his throat and lifted his eyes to meet hers once more, studying her carefully. His large eyes were rimmed dark with grief, but also with intelligence and something latent, like a fire that had been all but put out. Callie could have sworn there were embers still burning in him.

At last, he let out a sigh and nodded. “All right. If you’re certain, I will marry you.”

Intrigued? You’re in luck! Trail of Hope is now available for pre-order on Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords! It’s coming November 24th wherever books are sold.


Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my quarterly newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!